ECtHR Rules on Machalikashvili Case

On January 19, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled on the case of Machalikashvili and Others v. Georgia (application no. 32245/19). The court held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of the protection foreseen by the Convention’s Article 2 – the right to life in its procedural aspect, and, by six votes to one concluded that there had been no violation of the same article in its substantive aspect (right to life). 

According to the ruling, the Court found in particular that the authorities had failed to comply with the requirements of an effective and thorough investigation. Especially in the way the important evidence was collected and handled. It also found that the investigative activities were conducted superficially.

But at the same time, the Court considered that there was insufficient evidence to conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that T.M. had died in circumstances engaging the responsibility of the State.

“The Court found that the version of events provided by the authorities was plausible and that it could not assess the conflicting versions due in part to the shortcomings of the investigation and in part because no judicial assessment of the exact circumstances had been carried out at the domestic level,” the ruling reads.

Moreover, the Court rejected the applicants’ complaint of ill-treatment under Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) as manifestly ill-founded. “The Court observed that there was no evidence in the case file that T.M.’s family had suffered stress and anxiety beyond what could have been expected in that type of law-enforcement operation, particularly given how the operation unfolded,” the Court explained.

Regarding Article 13 of the Convention (right to an effective remedy), “the Court saw no need to examine separately the applicant’s complaint under Article 13 in conjunction with Article 2 and Article 3 of the Convention.”

The Court finally held that Georgia was to pay the applicants jointly 10,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 15,000 in respect of costs and expenses.

ECtHR finding a procedural violation of Article 2 may become grounds for re-opening the national investigation.

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